The field of neuroscience is a fascinating one, as it has the potential to tell us so much about how the human brain and mind works. Each year, scientists and experts conduct many studies in this area and come up with amazing neuroscience discoveries that shock us all.
2018 has been no different, and there have been some great brain discoveries that have already occurred. Scientists have found out more about repairing neurons, how parts of the brain relate to our health, and even what stress does for our memory.
We’re going to look at the top breakthroughs in neuroscience that’s we’ve heard about and what they mean for us as humans.
A recent study by Lu, Li, Wang, Song, and Liu, looked at the relationship the hippocampus had with our self-esteem and physical health. They found that people with higher levels of self-esteem actually have better health outcomes which led to longevity in life. These were people with higher levels of gratitude, optimism, and joy.
They also found that people with lower self-esteem had increased risk of things like anxiety and depression, or alcohol use and smoking, leading to poor health. It was hypothesized that the hippocampus was the part of the brain responsible for linking our self-esteem with our physical health and given their findings they believe it was.
This means by changing our outlook and improving our self-esteem and confidence, we might actually be able to impact our physical health as well. Although the findings are still in the early stages, this is something to be mindful of the next time you are feeling negative about yourself and the world.
It’s not surprising to know that stress levels can have a negative impact on our mind, but a study done this year of more than 2,000 participants found that it might do more than you think. The findings showed that people with a higher level of the stress hormone, cortisol, actually did worse on memory tests.
Not only that, but these people with higher stress levels actually had a reduced brain volume that indicates shrinkage. The results also found that the effect on the brain was more evident in women in the study.
This shows that the stress is something we need to work actively to reduce. Whether it’s exercising, meditation, or removing stressors from your life, we should be doing what we can to try and reduce these potentially harmful levels of stress.
We are constantly told that bacteria are everywhere, but an accidental finding in a neuroscience study this year discovered bacteria on the brain as well. After looking at high-resolution images of a brain from a deceased subject, they found that there were harmless bacteria living within it similar to those that live in the gut.
Once they had realized what they were looking at, they organized another study that consisted of 34 brains from nonliving subjects and found that they also contained living bacteria. What’s even more amazing, is there was no sign of bacterial disease or inflammation. The bacteria seemed to prefer living in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus regions of the brain.
Because the finding was accidental and there hasn’t been anything concluded with another follow-up study, it’s not yet known whether these bacteria would also be found on a living brain. However, it would completely change the way that scientists look at this important organ and would no doubt lead to even more amazing discoveries.
When asked to recall their first memory, some people go back to a time when they were a baby or toddler, under two years old. One recent study found that over 40 percent of people involved said that their first memory occurred during these early years, but that it was not possible.
Research claims that it’s not possible to have a memory from before you were two years old as the brain has not yet formed the ability to make memories like this. It’s believed that people with these false memories have created them from looking at pictures, hearing stories, or other bits of information that they piece together.
Science has long been fascinated with the power of psychedelic drugs on the brain, and recent findings have shown even more promise.
A recent study published in Cell Reports in July 2018 found that a brain that had used psychedelic drugs actually had an increase in the branches and spines of neurons, as well as an increase in the number of connections between them.
Those involved in the study believe that these findings mean people who suffer from conditions like depression or anxiety could actually have parts of their brain repaired from the damage that’s been done.
While the findings did show promise, researchers state they don’t think these drugs will be used as medication, but they could possibly be part of some treatment in the future.
Neuroscience is by far one of the most interesting facets of science and one that affects us all directly. Each year, the resources that these scientists use become more developed and technology improves, meaning we are uncovering new things all of the time.
While it’s fascinating to read about the findings of these studies, using the information learned and putting it into practice in our lives is the best way to utilize it. As we learn more about how to improve our brain health, we should make a conscious effort to do it, so that we can have optimal brain performance at all stages of life.